Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
The Most Beautiful Villages of France
The story of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France began with an encounter in 1981 between a man and a book.
The book about beautiful French villages was published by Sélection du Reader’s Digest, and the man was Charles Ceyrac, Mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge.
Thanks to that book, the Mayor found a way to serve a cause about which he felt very strongly: unite energies and passions to protect and promote the outstanding heritage of these exceptional villages of France, and thereby provide them with an alternative to rural exodus. Sixty six mayors followed Charles Ceyrac in an adventure that was made official on the 6th of March 1982. The foundational objectives have not changed since then: to protect, promote and develop the most beautiful villages in France.
In other words: to ensure the heritage quality of listed villages, thus creating or enhancing their reputation, which in turn fosters the development of economic activities.
How are villages selected?
As a certificate of quality, the classification (listed village) guarantees the public the beauty embodied by its registered trade mark. Its aim is to incite permanent action towards making each village a place of exception where harmony between site, architecture, heritage and landscape is source of emotion and enjoyment, whether one lives there or visits.
After the Commune (village) applies to be listed, it undergoes a survey visit on a date agreed upon by the Mayor and the Association’s Quality Manager.
This survey is based on a grid of 27 objective criteria used to appraise the village’s heritage, architectural, urbanistic, and environmental qualities, as well as its efforts to make the most of its territory (aesthetic development, management of visitors’ flows, town planning tools…).
Based on the on-site evaluation report and the photographic presentation, the Quality Committee decides to admit or reject the application.
While this selection method is extremely rigorous – less than one classification application out of five is favourably accepted – it has really proved to be necessary for the villages and the network to remain credible in the promise of excellence they make to the wider public.
Because listing is not an end in itself, periodic re-evaluations are conducted every six years. Today the national-scale network includes 156 villages.
Find out more
Visit the Plus Beaux Villages de France website at www.lesplusbeauxvillagesdefrance.org to find out more.
Road map, tourist guide, album…whether for practical or leisure purposes, the publications under the “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France®” brand are tools to help you prepare an escapade as much as they are an invitation to the simple pleasure of discovery.
All these publications are available through our online shop: